Marshall University to host state’s first geothermal energy conference

Monday, March 12, 2012

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – Marshall University’s Center for Business and Economic Research (CBER) and Center for Environmental, Geotechnical and Applied Sciences (CEGAS), in partnership with the West Virginia Division of Energy and the West Virginia Geological and Economic Survey, will host the first-ever West Virginia Geothermal Energy Conference on May 22 at the Flatwoods Conference Center in Flatwoods.

The conference is intended for energy analysts, researchers of emerging technologies, geologists, systems and energy conversion engineers, utilities representatives, resource extraction professionals, environmental consultants and policymakers.

Geothermal energy is generated and stored deep within the earth. Humans have used geothermal energy in the form of hot springs for millions of years—including for bathing by prehistoric man and for space heating by the ancient Romans. Today, electricity generation is the most common application for the resource.

“Geothermal energy is unique in that it can provide continuous power production, something most renewable energy resources can’t,” said CBER Director Christine Risch. “It hasn’t been exploited yet in this region because it is high cost and high risk.

“This conference will lay out the steps involved in evaluating and developing geothermal resources, including potential ways to reduce costs and uncertainty. The gathering will move us a little closer to an actual demonstration of the capability of the resource here in West Virginia.

Dr. Tony Szwilski, CEGAS director, added, “West Virginia has an extensive past and present in the energy arena, with regional, national and even international significance. Assessing the potential for geothermal energy in the state is essential, as every domestic energy resource that can meet current and future U.S. energy needs to be evaluated.”

The conference agenda will include an overview of the state of enhanced geothermal systems research and development relevant to West Virginia. Topics to be presented will include a Southern Methodist University data analysis of oil and gas wells that identified the state’s resource potential; current efforts to refine estimates of the cost of electricity produced from geothermal energy; practical aspects of drilling to depths required to encounter geothermal energy of the heat necessary for efficient use; geologic characteristics of the resource; critical engineering concepts involved with development of geothermal energy; and experiences with demonstrating development potential of a similar resource.

Additional conference details, including presentation topics, speakers, and registration and hotel information, are available at For more information, call (304) 696-6251 or (304) 696-5456.


Christine Risch, Director of Research, Center for Business and Economic Research (CBER), (304) 696-6251

Dr. Tony Szwilski, Director, Center for Environmental, Geotechnical and Applied Sciences (CEGAS), (304) 696-5457